Melissa Hope Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Melissa Hope Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Research and Evaluation Manager 

Melissa is an applied cultural and medical anthropologist with more than 15 years of experience carrying out research and evaluation within child and family serving systems. In her role as Research and Evaluation Manager for Caminar Latino-Latinos United for Peace and Equity, her work focuses on advancing research at the intersections of domestic violence and the child welfare system to improve state and community responses to vulnerable families. She leads research and evaluation initiatives for the National Center to Advance Peace for Children, Youth, and Families (NCAP), with an emphasis on cultivating equitable and culturally responsive approaches in addressing family violence.  

Melissa received her Ph.D. in applied anthropology, as well as Master’s degrees in anthropology and public health, from the University of South Florida. Throughout her career, Melissa has engaged in research and scholarship focused on understanding and addressing the needs of vulnerable children and families, including those involved with the child welfare system, children’s mental health systems of care, juvenile justice involved youth, undocumented immigrants, and survivors of human trafficking. She is especially interested in policy and practice-oriented research that promotes equity and social justice among child and family serving systems. 

Prior to joining Caminar Latino-LUPE, Melissa built a robust research career in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of South Florida. She served on evaluations for numerous large-scale systems change initiatives, including the Western and Pacific Child Welfare Implementation Center, Florida’s Children’s Mental Health System of Care Expansion Project, and Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Projects in Florida and Utah. She also led evaluations of child welfare interventions responding to the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Her prior work has examined child welfare policy and practice as cultural processes, with particular interest in exposing the ways in which child welfare and intersecting systems produce and reinforce vulnerability along lines of race, class, and gender.

Melissa primarily grew up in Wisconsin, where much of her family still lives. She currently resides in southwestern Washington with her partner and their two fur-babies.  

Published Work and Media

Armstrong, M. I., Johnson, M. H.,Robst, J., Cruz, A., Landers, M., & Vargo, A. (2019). Services Received vs. Services Needed by Families in Child Welfare Systems. International Journal on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, & Practice, 2: 165-181. 

Finigan-Carr, N. M., Johnson, M. H.,Pullman, M. D., Stewart, C. J., & Fromknecht, A. E. (2019). A Traumagenic Social Ecological Framework for Understanding and Intervening with Sex Trafficked Children and Youth. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 36(1): 49-63. 

Johnson, M. H.,Walters, M. G., & Armstrong, M. I. (2015). It Takes A Village: Using a Community-Defined Practice Approach to Develop a Tribal In-Home Services Model for Alaska Native Families. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 9(5): 487-505. 

Society for Applied Anthropology, Annual Conference 2019, session on Human Trafficking: Critical Perspectives on U.S. Policy, Practice, and Discourse: